Nate Robinson rising to Jake Paul's boxing challenge

Kevin Iole
·Combat columnist
·4 min read

Nate Robinson’s phone has been busy ever since he announced that he would fight YouTube creator Jake Paul on the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. undercard on Nov. 28.

Robinson, a 2005 first-round pick in the NBA and a three-time slam dunk champion, is taking his first venture into the fight game more than seriously. He’s been working out for months and his intensity has caught the attention of fighters.

Fighters are rare among athletes for what they have to put their bodies through. Robinson is learning that now, but is also encouraged by the support he’s received from other boxers who appreciate the way he’s respected their sport.

“A lot of the boxers have reached out to me and told me I’m an inspiration because you have to be a little crazy to do what we do,” Robinson told Yahoo Sports. “They see that I’m taking it seriously through what I post [on social media]. I really want to show the boxing world that I’m taking this seriously. I want them to see the hard work I’m putting in because I respect what they do.

“It’s amazing how hard they go. It’s not a game, man. I know first-hand from doing all this running and punching and working out, I see what they go through. I see why Floyd [Mayweather] is the best boxer in the world and what he did to get to 50-0. He put in the hardest work, the most work, into this game. So for me as an outsider coming into their world, I want to show them respect by giving everything I have and preparing seriously.”

Robinson was never one to back down in his NBA career, despite standing only 5-9 and giving up more than a foot in height to so many of his peers. He’s as hard-nosed and as competitive as they come. When he heard Paul calling out pro athletes and saying he could beat any of them, it was hard for him not to volunteer for the challenge.

That he wound up on the undercard of Tyson-Jones was just a blessing for him.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JULY 14: Nate Robinson of Tri State warms up before week four of the BIG3 three-on-three basketball league at Barclays Center on July 14, 2019 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/BIG3/Getty Images)
Nate Robinson will make his boxing debut on the undercard of the Mike Tyson-Roy Jones Jr. exhibition match on Nov. 28. (Photo by Mike Stobe/BIG3/Getty Images)

Robinson, 36, hasn’t made any decisions about a potential boxing career after the Paul fight. Notably, though, he hasn’t ruled it out. He’s grown to love it and said he’d be open to continuing.

“It’d be challenging for me, knowing that I’ve busted my ass to try to open some eyes up and showcase what I can do,” he said. “So if I could get another bout, it would mean I did something right and created some kind of a positive impression. So I wouldn’t rule out taking another one if the opportunity arises.”

Paul will have a significant size advantage of at least four inches and as much as 20 pounds.

Robinson weighed in the 180s during his NBA career and said he’s under 180 now. The fight is being contested at cruiserweight, and Paul is expected to come in around 200.

That isn’t much of a concern to Robinson, who said he’s altered his diet and feels he’s in prime condition.

“I’ve been weighing about 180 for, oh, I don’t know, 15, 20 years, man,” he said. “I’ve leaned out with all this training. I’m 178 now and really lean and strong. The boxing has chiseled me out and gotten my body right.

“I changed my diet and I gave up all that good junk food, stuff like that. I’ve been treating my body right so come Nov. 28, I’ll be in tiptop shape and ready to go.”

He’s looking forward to the fight and said he has no illusions it will be easy. He said he respects the work that Paul, who is 1-0, has put in while getting in shape and learning the fundamentals.

But Robinson has learned a lot about himself and one of those things is that he has a talent for boxing.

“For sure I do,” he said. “In the beginning, it was difficult because I’d never been in actual real sparring. From when I got into the ring for the first time until now, my coaches and everybody around me would tell you I’ve gotten so much better. I’ve put in the work, and that’s what boxing is.

“You put in the work, you give the effort and find out if you have the heart to do it. Some people get punched in the face for the first time and don’t want to do it no more. Me, I get punched in the face a couple of times, I want to go right back and deliver the blows right back to you. I want to learn to become a solid boxer. I don’t want to embarrass myself or this sport and I want to show the world that I have put the work in to make myself a real boxer and not just some basketball player fooling around.”

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